What's Exciting About FreeBSD 9.1: Intel KMS
While FreeBSD 9.1 is running behind schedule, one of the exciting additions to this forthcoming BSD operating system is finally debuting Intel kernel mode-setting on FreeBSD support.
The most exciting feature in this release is undoubtedly the availability of Kernel Modesetting and new drivers for intel chipsets. The drivers are not perfectly up-to-date (xf86-video-intel is at 2.17 and mesa is at 7.11) but it is a significant improvement over what was previously available (2.7 and 7.6, respectively).
For users willing to use development code and mesa is at 8.0.5 while xf86-video-intel is at 2.20.3 (Dan Vetter's reworking, whilst necessary, has slowed down the porting efforts). The development code is pretty stable - I've had it running nicely on an Intel GM45 for a month or two. It also provides software rendering for AMD cards that are still supported by User Modesetting. One notable problem with the KMS code is that once the module is loaded, it is not possible to use the basic console - the user must stay in X (this is being worked on).
It is worth noting that the team responsible for maintaining and updating X11 in FreeBSD consists of only two people doing regular work on it, so whilst FreeBSD is behind Linux in terms of Xorg, that such strides have been made with so few resources is worthy of applause.
Editor's Note From Michael Larabel: The latest outlook is that FreeBSD 9.1 will likely arrive around December of this year following some setbacks in the release candidates availability. While Intel KMS has finally reached mainline BSD, the KMS/DRM support state for the Radeon and Nouveau drivers isn't in good shape yet and is still a never-ending challenge of porting the open-source graphics driver code from Linux. Phoronix continues to happily accept freelance postings from independent Phoronix readers for those wishing to contribute.
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